31 Mar 2014

Language learners crucial, says TMP

12:30 pm on 31 March 2014

Te Reo Maori could die out if organisations like Te Mangai Paho do not cater to those learning the language as well as fluent speakers, according to its chief executive.

Te Mangai Paho provides funding for Maori and bilingual television programmes, such as The GC, but former cabinet minister Koro Wetere is calling on it to allocate money only to total Maori immersion programmes.

Mr Wetere says the agency appears to be allocating money for programmes with a high English-language content.

Te Mangai Paho rejects the comments, saying that while it has a responsibility to cater to immersion students and those who are fluent in the language, there is a bigger group of people whose needs should be met.

Chief executive John Bishara says promoting Te Reo is part of the journey towards the Maori language being revitalised to the point where it's not dying.

Mr Bishara says if Te Mangai Paho focuses only on people who are speaking Maori and does not grow a wider audience the language could disappear.

He says there is enough evidence and research to show societal values are the biggest killer of Te Reo Maori and if people do not value it, it will be killed off.

The chief executive says all types of media, including digital, can be used to promote Te Reo.

Mr Bishara says other organisations are charged with teaching the language, whereas the responsibility of Te Mangai Paho is to promote it.